Saturday, May 28, 2011

True Crime Read: The Wrong Man: The Final Verdict on the Dr. Sam Sheppard Murder Case

Worthy of a summer reading list
The murder of Marilyn Sheppard outside of Cleveland in 1954 has always fascinated me.  When I was a kid I saw the TV movie staring George Peppard on the murder and it hooked me.  After all, this case made F. Lee Bailey and had all of the elements of a thriller – a mysterious bushy haired intruder, the rich doctor accused of the crime, torrid affairs, you name it.  While the producers of The Fugitive deny any links to this true crime, let’s get real…they are there. 

So when I came across James Neff’s book on the topic I was sucked back in.  I admit that I had seen news reports over the years about the Sheppard family going back to DNA testing to attempt to clear the Doctor.  I hadn’t really read any of the waves of books out there over the years which allowed me to come in with an open mind. 

I wasn’t disappointed. 

Neff does an excellent job of laying out the crime and the parties involved.  Sometimes with true crime books you don’t get a feel for the characters – especially the victims.  Neff doesn’t fall into that trap.  He made you really get into the heads of the key players in the case. 

The book took a neat turn with the more recent aspects of the case because Neff himself was drawn into it.  His notes were subpoenaed as part of the case that the Sam Reese Sheppard filed to clear his father’s name.  He did a very good job of making the shift to include himself in the story.  Neff’s writing style is smooth. He even was able to make sense out of the DNA testing parts of the case, which often times can be confusing (and was the jury in this case.) 

Overall, I recommend this book.  I did the Kindle edition and my only complaint was that the photos were at the end of the book.  A minor nit at best aimed at the publisher, not the author.  This is a good summer read and I recommend picking it up. 

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